It’s Human Trafficking Awareness Month. Here’s what you can do in Birmingham.


Junior League of Birmingham at city council meeting
January was officially declared Human Trafficking Awareness Month at a Birmingham City Council meeting. Photo via Junior League of Birmingham.

January is officially Human Trafficking Awareness Month in Birmingham. It’s not the only city to face this issue, but Birmingham does have some dedicated groups committed to stopping the crime in our city.

The Junior League of Birmingham Anti-Human Trafficking Committee is educating the public about this pressing issue, including the signs and best ways to respond if you see something suspicious. Plus, take a look at the free event JLB is hosting to help you prevent human trafficking.

First things first, what’s been done so far?

Junior League of Birmingham at city council meeting for human trafficking awareness
Members of JLB and Bessemer Airport Authority hold signage for public bathroom stalls that help the public identify the signs. Photo courtesy of JLB.

Unfortunately, villains don’t always wear scary masks like in the movies. In real life, they’re harder to recognize. Thankfully, JLB has a team of dedicated volunteers and programs committed to raising human trafficking awareness.

Last year, the JLB collected proclamations from 32 area mayors and city councils. The proclamations prompted discussions on training for law enforcement and businesses through their chambers of commerce.

“These proclamations have opened the door for meaningful conversations on how each community can help fight trafficking.

People don’t typically understand the correlation between trafficking and prostitution and after our community trainings, they better understand the problem and how we can work together to make a difference.”

Julia Meyers, Human Trafficking Chair for the Junior League of Birmingham

JLB offers free signage to the community for public bathroom stalls. The signs help raise human trafficking awareness and give a hotline number for victims to call.

Free human trafficking awareness signage for public bathroom stalls,
The signs are in both English and Spanish. Photo courtesy of JLB.

“A majority of victims are never offered help while they are in captivity so the hope is that this signage will help victims self-identify and make the call to law enforcement.”

Julia Meyers, Human Trafficking Chair for the Junior League of Birmingham

What are some resources available during Human Trafficking Awareness Month, and beyond?

Gardendalel trafficking free zone
Mayor Stan Hogeland presents a proclamation declaring the month of January 2020 as Human Trafficking Month from the City of Gardendale to Abby Grace Worrell—a member of the Anti-Human Trafficking Committee of the Junior League of Birmingham. Photo courtesy of JLB.

JLB is committed to educating the public on this crisis through events including free civic training which you can book through this email. In addition, JLB partners with local organizations, including those that work directly with victims, to end exploitation.

JLB’s human trafficking awareness event

The first way to prevent human trafficking is to educate yourself. One way is through JLB’s event where experts will speak on the subject.

January 22 at 8:30AM-10:30AM hear from author Cyntoia Brown-Long’s personal experience at Freedom, Justice, and Mercy for All: A Conversation with Cyntoia Brown-Long.  Learn more about Cyntoia’s story and her fight against human trafficking. Tickets are limited.

The event is free and located in the JLB Auditorium at 2212 Twentieth Avenue South, Birmingham, AL 35223.

UAB’s Program for Pediatric Victims of Human Trafficking 

UAB seeks to be the medical home for victims of child trafficking.  Through a grant from JLB, UAB is increasing the services provided to children who are identified and brought to UAB for care.

“If children are seen in the emergency department they will be evaluated to determine next steps, including, protocols that may include an inpatient stay or outpatient services. Our ultimate goal is to protect children in our state who have been victimized as a result of child trafficking.” 

Andrea Martin, Senior Director of Development, UAB School of Medicine, Department of Pediatrics

 Child Trafficking Solutions Project 

JLB partnered with the Child Trafficking Solutions Project to roll out a more intense strategy to combat the crisis. It includes implementing the U.S. Institute Against Human Trafficking’s initiative to make all of Jefferson County a TraffickingFree Zone before the World Games in 2021.

Municipalities that sign on must train all city employees on the response protocol. In addition, the municipality adopts a zero-tolerance policy for purchasing sex during work hours.

How can we recognize the signs?

Vestavia City Council It's Human Trafficking Awareness Month. Here's what you can do in Birmingham.
Vestavia Hills is the first city in Alabama to make an effort to become a trafficking free zone. Photo courtesy of the JLB.

“We have all heard the stories about ‘white vans’ and the ‘creepy person at Wal-Mart’ and while society needs to make a more concerted effort to be aware of our surroundings, when it comes to trafficking, abductions are quite unlikely.”

Julia Meyers, Human Trafficking Chair for the Junior League of Birmingham

Surprising as it might seem, it’s more common for a teen victim to leave willingly under a false promise, such as a modeling opportunity.

Another common way for someone to become a victim of human trafficking is through their family. Familial trafficking is when a victim’s family member starts selling the child at a young age for reasons such as drug money or to pay rent.

“According to Homeland Security only 3% of trafficking cases begin from abduction.

More likely, teens are being approached and groomed over social media – all of the popular apps including Instagram, Facebook, Fortnite, Tiktok, etc, make it easy for predators to reach children. And these predators are experts at finding the most vulnerable.”

Julia Meyers, Human Trafficking Chair for the Junior League of Birmingham

What else can I do?

Here are just a few possible indicators of human trafficking. Check out more from the Blue Campaign’s resources:

  • Has a child stopped attending school?
  • Has the person had a sudden or dramatic change in behavior?
  • Is the person disoriented or confused, or showing signs of mental or physical abuse?
  • Does the person have bruises in various stages of healing?
  • Is the person often in the company of someone to whom he or she defers? Or someone who seems to be in control of the situation, e.g., where they go or who they talk to?
  • Does the person lack personal possessions and appear not to have a stable living situation?

The JLB recommends calling the Blue Campaign to report anything suspicious at 1.866.347.2423. This number rings locally. You should also call or text 911 and let the dispatcher know that you suspect human trafficking. They’ll route the call to the proper source.

Get tickets to events and find out more ways to stop human trafficking on JLB’S Facebook and Instagram.

You join the fight against human trafficking by donating to the ABOLISH Movement.

Sponsored by:

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Irene Richardson
Irene Richardson
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